In Victoria during 2018-19, 34 children aged 10-13 years were in detention and all were unsentenced. While the number of children is low, the costs of incarceration to these children, their families, their communities and society are high.
Leading Community Service Organisation OzChild launches new program to keep children and young people in Victoria from entering out-of-home care
OzChild is working with at-risk families in Western Melbourne, Brimbank Melton and the Goulburn Valley to keep children from entering the out-of-home care system through the delivery of a vital new program.
Family Worx is OzChild’s adoption of the Family Preservation and Reunification response model being rolled out across Victoria by the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Family Worx has one key goal: to keep families safely together,” explains Grenville Hendricks, Director – Prevention & Strengthening Families at OzChild.
“The model is OzChild’s response to the ever-increasing trajectory of children who may end up in out-of-home care.
“If the numbers keep increasing in Australia it will get to a point where it’s no longer sustainable or tenable. We want to work with families in crisis now to keep them together, so children can stay safely with their families.
“Because we know the impacts of a child being removed from their family and placed into out-of-home care can be significant and long-lasting,” explains Mr Hendricks.
Recent analysis by Social Ventures Australia1 predicts the risk of families being separated and children entering care will significantly worsen due to the pandemic, suggesting a further 4,500 children could potentially enter the out-of-home care system as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This could mean Victoria has 27,500 children in care by 2026, more than any other state or territory.
“Families have been forced to spend long, uninterrupted time together, normal support systems have not been in place and greater financial and emotional stress can place vulnerable children, young people and families at greater risk,” says OzChild’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lisa J. Griffiths.
“I am certain, the demand on the out-of-home care system will be greater than ever before, for a long time after the coronavirus crisis.
“We cannot continue to rely on the recruitment of foster or kinship carers to care for at-risk kids, we must address the underlying issues, the reasons why children are being placed in out-of-home care, Family Worx aims to do just that,” adds Dr Griffiths.
The program will provide an integrated service to families in crisis, requiring immediate support and intervention as well as parents who are being reunified with their children after a period in out-of-home care.
Launched in September and servicing families in Goulburn Valley, Western Melbourne and Brimbank Melton the Family Worx program is highly responsive and flexible to each family’s needs and is supported by OzChild’s evidence-based and evidence-informed models; Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare and the SafeCare program.
OzChild’s Family Preservation and Reunification Team Leader, Vivienne Interrigi says the strength-based approach and end to end service delivery of the program is what she believes will serve vulnerable families best.
“Every family has their strengths and through the Family Worx model, we get to bring out the best in families , build on these strengths , create new strengths and really focus on children being able to remain with their families,” says Ms Interrigi.
“The team is excited and passionate about working with families in Victoria, to be able to create a different way of working with families who deserve care, support and structure. The intention of this model aligns with our values, our passion and our commitment to preservation and reunification of families – to open the doors for families to stay together.”
OzChild Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lisa J. Griffiths adds “the COVID-19 pandemic continues to place increasing uncertainty, isolation and profound hardship on many families in Victoria, and across the nation. The immediate and critical support that will be provided through Family Worx will help ensure children can stay safely at home with their families during this time.”
- OzChild Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lisa J. Griffiths is available for interview upon request.
- Grenville Hendricks, Director Prevention & Strengthening Families, OzChild is available for interview upon request.
- Family Worx Team Leader Vivienne Interrigi is available for interview upon request.
About Family Worx
A key objective of FFT-CW and SafeCare is the promotion of family self-sufficiency, a reduction in the need for protective services and/or family support services by increasing parenting capacity. OzChild currently have a total of 10 FFT-CW teams across three state and territory jurisdictions, the most of any child welfare provider in Australia. Since 2016 over 800 families have successfully graduated in FFT-CW, with 95% of CYP remaining with their families.
In addition, OzChild was the first Australian agency to be accredited as a SafeCare provider launching SafeCare in Melbourne’s south east in 2016 followed by delivery in Victoria’s north east in 2019.
With over seven staff supporting 50 families in Victoria’s southern region, we have achieved an average of 98% success across SafeCare’s health module, and reduced home safety hazards by 81% between July 2018 and June 2019.
In Victoria, OzChild delivers four evidence-based programs: Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO), Multisystemic Therapy (MST) and Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare (FFT-CW) and SafeCare to deliver better outcomes for at-risk children, young people, and families.
For further information please contact Rebecca Swinton 03 9695 2230 / 0439 472 281
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